before and afterDIY

Before & After: A Stunning Transformation for an Upstate New York Inn

by Maxwell Tielman

hudson_milliner_ba_1 hudson_milliner_form_1

In the fall of 2010, photographer Shannon Greer and painter Charlotta Jansson began to feel the itch that befalls many a New York City dweller after a while—the desire to get out of town and go someplace more quiet. The couple’s original plan was to purchase an old barn and transform it into a secluded country house. However, “the more Charlotta thought about it,” Shannon says, “my busy travel schedule as a photographer meant she would have to travel by herself and be secluded and alone a lot.” Instead, the two opted for a best-of-both worlds approach— in Hudson, NY, a hip, artistic enclave in the Hudson Valley. “We agreed that this would be a great getaway place that offered great food and culture: something we call ‘faux country living,’ given we have all the urban luxuries minus the noise, the crowds and pollution.” Instead of a bucolic farm setting, Shannon and Charlotta ended up purchasing an old  building on Warren Street, Hudson’s main commercial thoroughfare. The site of an old milliner’s shop, the building was quite large and in need of some major renovations. After a lot of work and more than a few ceilings removed, the couple have an awesome home-away-from-home and a fabulous new business venture—The Hudson Milliner, a guesthouse and inn, marketed as “refuge for urbanites in search of refined comfort in classical surroundings.” Furnished with stunning antiques and a beautiful industrial aesthetic, the Hudson Milliner is a marvelous addition to this small town’s amazing restaurants and stores—the perfect weekend getaway! Check out the incredible photos of the Milliner’s “Tophat” suite transformation after the jump! —Max



hudson_milliner_ba_3 hudson_milliner_ba_4 hudson_milliner_ba_5 hudson_milliner_ba_6

 “Charlotta and I bought the building that houses the Hudson Milliner in March, 2011,” Shannon says. “We instantly loved the building, and saw the possibilities right away. Apart from a few poorly renovated 60s-style ill placed kitchens and bathrooms it had great bones: all solid mahogany doors, hardwood floors, intact original stair cases with pre tin plaster, original etched glass pocket doors, ceiling ornaments and a few curved walls. Built in the early 1800’s the Hudson Milliner for nearly a century was indeed a Millinery. We immediately made crude floor plans in Photoshop. We wanted to incorporate all the old character while turning each floor into two spaces rather than one. Each floor had 2 sets of gorgeous pocket doors exactly opposite each other, which made each floor a very long rectangle at 65′ lenght and 25′ width, with a few too many small rooms. We decided to relocate one set of pocket doors on each floor and turn the moved pairs into barn doors while getting rid of too small rooms, creating 2 loft like more squarish spaces on each floor. Originally the back building on the 2nd floor  was a kitchen that had tiny windows and though it was a great space, very little light came it. That was to become our bohemian space: an art studio and office with a simple open tub, toilet and sink in the corner. We found a set of six 20″ wide 60″ high iron windows at Zaborski Emporioum in Kingston, rented a cherry picker over the weekend and donning asbestos suits together whilst hosing down the external wall we removed the non-fryable asbestos tiles ourselves after reading a rereading a diy about it on the internet.”




 “Above the 3rd floor ceiling was a crawl space, that wasn’t large enough for storage. It was Charlotta’s idea to take down the existing ceiling, and then to expose the rafters above. This meant covering the roof of the building with tyvek, because we were losing the insulation of the crawl space. Once we exposed the rafters, we had to expose the brick too.”

tophat-3 tophat-2

In renovating the hardwood floors rather than sanding and sealing the floors, we buffed them (we love all the old marks and gashes) . We came across a wipe-on poly from Vermont (a tip from our wonderful ground floor tenant Chris Lehrecke who designs wooden furniture), that not only conditioned the wood floors, but sealed them too and brought out their rich colors while not erasing their marks.”

tophat-4 tophat-5 tophat-6

Above image: The loft bed was constructed from wood salvaged from the removed ceiling.

tophat-7 tophat-8 tophat-9 tophat-10 tophat-11

tophat-12 tophat-21

“We wanted to bathrooms to feel like they had always been there, but give them our own twist. We worked with black and white tiles only and painstakingly designed individual hexagon floors in photoshop. We had luck in finding inexpensive tubs and sinks. One was just being thrown out on the street next door to us in Brooklyn and we scooped it up.”



 “We worked closely with our contractor Jon Hardy, sometimes butting heads, but that is part of it. Independently we worked with a fine carpenter Ray Ford, who had brilliant ideas such as making old an sleigh bed queen sized that we had found in a chicken coup, taking apart a 700 lbs 1910 champion range piece by piece and putting it back together on the 3rd floor, turning pocket doors into barn doors and how to best lay black and white hexagon tile floors.“Being in love with such a space comes at a cost. Needles to say, we went way over budget and whenever we ran out of funds, we waited till we had them to do it right. It took us two years to get there. Some weekends were really frustrating, some were exciting, for instance when an idea really was implemented well.

 “As a nod to Hudson’s incarnation as a town that has many antique stores  and vintage shops, we decided to furnish the apartments with the same. Our side tables are sewing stands topped by Ikea butcher board (which is sadly are no longer available) and we learned to rethread old lamps. We were able to find much of our furniture in and around Hudson, NY. Outside of Hudson, we found beautiful pieces at the Portly Pug in Rhinebeck,  the Bottle Shop in Millbrook, Hoffman’s  Barn in Red Hook and Zaborski Emporium in Kingston. We are never really done, but now it’s just about “tweeking” and our doors are open for business.”


Materials & Resources:
  • Hexagon tiles and subway tiles were affordably ordered online from tileshop.com or purchased at Lowes.
  • Plumbing pipes with help of the plumbers at Kevin and Richard Plumbing in Brooklyn 
  • Early electric stove, resalvaged side table, leather chair and white bench from our dealer friend Terri See  
  • Fridge was a find on craigslist
  • Dining table, chairs and wrought iron bed from Portly Pug
  • Vintage closet and seeing table chairs from Poughkipsee dealer Anne Negrin (845-797-8807)
  • Shaker shelf/table from Re-Pop
  • Demolition and major construction done by Jon Hardy
  • Fine carpentry/electric/plumbing solutions Ray Ford (646-404-3187)
  • Skeleton keys and stamped brass door signs for keys,Rogerson Hardware
Final budget: Approximately $26,000 with furniture.



Suggested For You


  • It’s definitely a hipster hang-out, and I admire some of the ideas, like the industrial pipe shelves that spider outward, but overall, it’s a little too cold for me. More color, like wall color, ethnic rugs or hides, and more texture would warm up those cold pipe fixtures and the hospital-like white rooms.

  • I recognize the painting over the bed from an artist who frequently shows at Pillow Cafe & surrounding restaurants on Myrtle Ave! (Clinton Hill area!)

    Those ceilings make all the difference but I’d personally need a rug in my bedroom with all those rough hewn surfaces.

  • I really love the high ceilings and the exposed brick. I wish there was a better photo of the bathroom, especially the floor. The etched glass pocket doors are absolutely wonderful! It feels like it still needs some decor, but I really do love what you’ve done with the place.

  • totally love everything everywhere in this place. Love the transformation the ceilings!!! the best…the only thing is the kitchen leaves me feeling flat…overall, its a great place and incredible transformation!…a true pleasure to see

  • It’s true, drop ceilings can be painful to look at/live with but there is a reason for them….to conserve heat!! We have an old farmhouse w/an early 90s reno 2 bedrooms w/vaulted ceiling that we are now in the process of returning to the farm original (slanted ceiling) = beauty = heat savings.

  • This is one of the most awesome renovations I’ve seen on Design*Sponge… hats off to your amazing vision, perseverance, and style!

  • I agree that heat conservation is an important part of any renovation. What we did was insulate from the roof (Tyvek). It seems to work, and we get to keep our gorgeous ceilings.

  • wow. what a beautifully designed inn! i love the antique furnishings mixed with the industrial loft-look and the modern paintings. a few oriental carpets scattered throughout would warm the floors on chilly days. i clicked on shannon’s name and saw some of the other rooms and they are just as lovely.

  • We are graciously taking everyone’s advice, and beautiful carpets (antique) will be next. Persian, as Charlotta spent five years growing up in Tehran.

  • It’s times like these I wish there were a “pin all” feature for blogs and pinterest. These spaces are amazing, and their website really evokes a vintage feel!

  • Yes we have the same shower fixture from Sunrise Specialty. It cost an arm and a leg but it was worth it. Wonderful company to work with. Good work on your project, well done.

  • Wow amazing job. I am usually not a fan of the pipe shelving but can easily see it filled with folded clothing and hangers on the other wall – really looks like a perfect walk in closet under a loft bed GREAT IDEA for a small space!